Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman over at Sabato’s Crystal Ball joins most of the political pundits forecasting a more than even chance that Joe Biden will win the Presidential Election next month….
The piece also points to gains for Democrats in the House and a possible Democratic Senate majority…
Trailing nationally and in more than 270 electoral votes’ worth of states, Donald Trump needed more help from Tuesday night’s debate than Joe Biden did. We don’t think Trump did help himself, and it is possible that he actually made his path to a second term harder by demonstrating the poor behavior that seems to turn off so many voters.
Trump’s performance was so outrageous that it made us ponder whether we should make him a significantly bigger underdog in our ratings than he already has been: We’ve had Biden leading Trump in our Electoral College ratings since early April, and Biden’s been slowly inching up in our ratings ever since, while Trump has been receding. That will continue in our rating changes today, although arguably we could or even should go a lot further.
But we have also been cautious throughout this election cycle, cognizant of an electorate that doesn’t seem to swing that much, even in the face of events that one might expect to change minds.
Electoral College changes
With a stable national lead and a bevy of polling showing him running significantly better with northern white voters than Hillary Clinton performed four years ago, Joe Biden appears to be turning back the clock a bit on the United States’ political transformation.
Namely, after Clinton hemorrhaged white voters in northern small town and rural areas in 2016, Biden appears to be bringing some of those voters back into the Democratic fold while also improving on Clinton’s margins with white suburbanites. If this pattern holds in the actual results, it could pay major dividends for Biden in the Great Lakes region, where American presidential elections are so often won and lost and where the electorates in the competitive states are whiter than the nation as a whole.
We have several Electoral College changes this week, all in this region. We are moving Minnesota from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic. We are also moving its neighbor, Wisconsin — the decisive state in the 2016 presidential election — from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. And, finally, we’re moving Iowa and Ohio, both of which voted for Donald Trump by margins approaching double digits in 2016, from Leans Republican to Toss-up.
These changes push Biden over the 270 electoral vote mark in our ratings, shown in Map 1.
Map 1: Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings
Map 1: Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings
The changes in Iowa and Ohio come both because of the broad improvements Biden has made with white voters in many different places and also because of more recent polling showing the presidential race very competitive in each state. Last Thursday, we took a detailed look at Ohio, and Biden got two of his best polls in the state of the whole cycle there later that day: Up one in a Quinnipiac University poll and up five in a Fox News poll. This squares with some of what we reported in that story, namely that operatives on both sides in Ohio have found the president struggling mightily in key suburban areas.
In Iowa, the tell may have been that Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has been locked in a very competitive contest with businesswoman Theresa Greenfield (D), and it seems like the presidential race is not much different (though Trump typically polls a little better than Ernst).
Meanwhile, Biden’s lead in Wisconsin has been as good or even better than his lead in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states we’ve had in the Leans Democratic column since June (Pennsylvania) or since we debuted our Electoral College ratings last year (Michigan). Biden’s leads are in the five-to-seven point range in all three states. Minnesota voted slightly more Democratic than these states in 2016, and the president’s bid to flip the state does not appear to be succeeding. We think it merits being in a less competitive category than the Michigan-Pennsylvania-Wisconsin group: If Minnesota flips, something will have gone seriously wrong for Biden, and Trump would almost certainly be winning a second term.
Now, how might we be wrong about the Midwest?
Simple: It is possible that pollsters across many different methods and firms are just overestimating Democratic support among white voters, and it’s showing up most dramatically in this region.
That said, there are reasons to believe that Trump’s great performances with white voters will be hard to replicate this year….